What's the difference between classical and pop music?

• Mar 28, 2020 - 23:30

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUP7PbEYgjM
Paul McCartney said that "Pop music is the classical music of now."
Yes or No?

To further nudge some thoughts. I don't believe there was any distinction between the two until the beginning of the 20th century. But exactly when? And why?

Leonard Bernstein might be a good resource for addressing this question.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afU76JJcquI


Comments

To me there isn't a clear boundary between these two, but most of the times I am able to tell whether a piece of music is classical or pop. There're many clues: use of instruments, style of singing, style of structure... I guess what mostly differentiates classical from pop is the creation time, this is obvious but not absolute. I've been writing classical music for years. So more precisely it should be "time of first appearance". But the appearance of what? I don't know much about the English translation of professional music terms. But let's just say theoretical approaches and instrument usage. Personally I'm more interested in the former, but the differences of instruments are also fascinating. OK, I think I can go on, but let's just stop here. To summarize, there're quite a few differences, and they're not difficult to recognize. But there're also subtle things.

In reply to by Howard-C

If classical music is the music that was done before you were born, as underquark has said, then why is it that Cage, Stockhausen, and Reich have all been categorized as classical within their lifetimes, at the beginning of their composing careers? Bach was not classical until about 50 years after his death, when an unconventional master of the moment, Beethoven, began to mention his name, and rescued him from obscurity.

Howard C says he's been writing classical music for years. What makes you think you're writing classical music? You're not dead, are you? McCartney says that he was writing classical music. He ought to be qualified because Paul was dead at the time.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Don't forget that in Bach's time, the music that he was writing was not called "Baroque" music. Just like the music that Beethoven was writing was not called "Classical" music.
In 1968,when Paul gave the interview you quoted, The Beatles where in the midst of making more money than any musicians had ever made. He though that his music was just as "clever" as "high brow" stuff. I think that is all he meant.

To me, classical music is music for which accuracy to the composer's score is valued, and the notated page is valued more than the composer or the performer. Yes, there are improvisational aspects to continuo and ornamenation realizations, musica ficta, but (Eric Clapton's note-perfect reconstructions of Robert Johnson notwithstanding), classical music is that where fidelity to the score, not the style or feeling or improvisational tradition, is paramount. If you don't like what X wrote and want to improve it (at least as a performance claiming to be such), you shouldn't be in classical music. It is the difference between "sheet music" and "score". Composer doesn't have to be dead, and pop music composers don't have to be living.

In reply to by BSG

I think Steven Foster is 19th-century pop music, and Eric Whitacre is 21st century classical music, and the Beatles catalogue (which I deeply admire) is pop music. Learning to play a Beatles song does not involve engagement with every note, ornament, and instrumental artifact the Beatles used.

In reply to by BSG

Did Cage and Stockhausen require scores? They seem to be working directly with audio recording. The Beatles music is fully scored, not only in piano score, but in full scores containing staves for each sound that appears on the recording. The Analogues have faithfully reproduced their works not for note, sound by sound. But the score has been replaced by the audio recording. An audio recording is much more faithful than a score. Wouldn't you rather have a recording of Beethoven pounding out the sonatas #15 or 17, than a score? The recording is the score.

Who are the masters of 20th century music, and what was the common practice of the period?

In reply to by bobjp

You don't need a score when you have a recording device. Bach was not a master of classical music. He was simply a master of music. The classical label was added later. Who were the masters of the 20th century? Arnold Schoenberg, John Philip Sousa, Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Bob Marley, The Ramones, Notorious B.I.G.

And the 2 1/2 to 4 minute pop song was their vehicle of choice. If that's not classical music, then why is John Dowland or William Byrd. Stephan Foster is classical music under your own definition. He wrote his songs in scores just as Dowland did. What's the difference? Because he draws upon folk music. then what is Bartok. Why is it classical when Cage bangs directly on the strings of a piano with nuts and bolts, but when The Who smashed their guitars and drums into the stack Marshall amps it was "pure rubbish?"

Whole music theory courses are designed around the music of The Beatles.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Stephen Foster certainly wrote scores, but almost no one who sings his songs, starting with countless kids in summer camp (I suspect most of them are politically insensitive now, though) refers to his scores to "perform" them. They have morphed into "folk music". I thought we were beyond misunderstanding that "classical music" is a, as it were, "classical term". There is no question that the Beatles, etc. were extremely significant music-creators of the 20th century. But, as I said, no one seeks to reproduce their works in their form, nor did they intend anyone to. I notice you haven't mentioned Britten, Vaughan Williams, Vierne, Dupré, or Kurt Weill, let alone Stravinsky, or Shostakovich. People do not play Bartok around campfires, Stephen Foster, they do. I admire Jimi Hendrix tremendously, and have spent many hours trying to duplicate his guitar work. But setting his guitar on fire was rubbish, and he knew it. He was a genius.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Cage certainly wrote scores; i cant speak to Stockhausen. We have recordings of Rachmaninoff - piano students prefer scores. I'd like to have recordings of the old Ludwig Van improvising, but I'd rather have a score that I can learn to play myself. Somehow, people still buy guitars, even though rock music recordings are readily available. Beethoven's (and my) concept of a "work" differs from "performance". A score is bigger than yourself. A composer performance isn't.

In reply to by BSG

Composition which is performance art is not classical music (and I attended plenty of rock concerts in my youth, and even the recording can't capture the magic of Jefferson Airplane or the Rolling Stones live). Nor do great rock artists cover others' songs unless they can really add something to it (again, the countless reinterpretation of Dylan, say, the Byrds), i.e., "not play it 'accurately'". A Beethoven sonata, on the other hand, leaves open the door for wide interpretation and different understandings. If Louie the Van's "definitive CD" laid down "the only way it should be played", there's no need for score or pianists.

In reply to by BSG

There's no need to perform it. I have exactly what Stockhausen performed in my music library. The Beatles were master of the 20th century and they, along with many other masters, did not score their music, because it was not necessary. The common practice by mid century was to record your compositions. That is exactly what the purpose of the imperfect notation system was spose to do. The recording process is a more perfect method of making a record of a composition.

The change came with the introduction of audio recording. And common practice takes a decided shift with the methods of Louis Armstrong. the greatest masters of the 20th century were African Americans. So the question is political and racial. Scott Joplin is classical music. The same people who attend Haydn string quartet recitals go to hear Scott Joplin recitals.

Let's take an example of a pop song written and performed by two artists at the top of my pantheon. Dylan's "All along the Watchtower" is a pop song. If you get the basic chords, rhythm, and the ever-important lyrics, that's the song. It's 100% Dylan's, and that's what you get on "John Wesley Harding". The late Jimi Hendrix' rendition of the song is not an "accurate rendition" of the song, it is a genius-level "performance" of a popular song, so brilliant that even the Bard himself considers it definitive. He changed the chords a bit, and the rhythm a bit, and added a virtuoso guitar element of magnificent beauty which was completely new. If he just played it the way Dylan did, it'd be worthless; we have Dylan's recording, and even Dylan doesn't play it that way any more. A pop song is a skeleton, a basis, for fleshed-out, customized performance (not unlike a figured bass -- the partimento case begs the question). A classical composition to which a new solo part is added (e.g., Bach to Pergolesi's Stabat Mater) is a new composition.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Why should anyone ever learn to play them themselves? How would they go about doing so? If I recall, before the Beatles found great fame, they played songs by Buddy Holly, etc. You don't seem to like the idea of transmitted music which transcends its creator.

In reply to by BSG

I don't think liking or disliking a thing is objective. It all comes down to what the public or what educated people think is the greatest music of the 20th century. The masters inform us of this. If you want to listen to 20th century music, who are you going to put on your playlist? Cage or Creedence Clearwater? What are you going to play? Phillip Glass or the Stray Cats?

So, I think this division came about from several factors: 1) the introduction of audio recording 2) the rise of Black music masters 3) drastic changes in common practice and 4) I forgot! Oh yeah! The rise of the modern university system.

In reply to by Rockhoven

"I don't think liking or disliking a thing is objective". Is there anything less objective than liking or disliking a thing? "Classical" neither means "good", "white Christian European males think it's good" or "smart people think it's good". But then again, what "classical" means seems almost as subjective. If you want to call Led Zeppelin (whose early recordings I very much admire) "classical", who am I or anyone to tell you not to?

In Germany there's the distinction between E- and U-Musik, ernste Musik (serious, grave, earnest) and Unterhaltungsmusik (entertainment), basically the same differences as for classic vs. pop.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I think it has more to do with class. Music of White males was considered "serious" and the music of the Gypsy or African was considered "barbaric." That's why Stockhausen and Cage were allowed to get away with what they did. If you made a lot of racket on the jungle floors of Brasil, it was "noise." And if you made a crash followed by a boom and a blip in a university laboratory, it was "serious music." I have no doubt that theory books will be written in the future based upon the works of Cage and Stockhausen, in which the theorists will claim that a beep should always be followed by a bang unless it is preceded by a found sound.

In reply to by Rockhoven

The real difference is that when a composer writes a piece of what's usually called classical music, he puts down the exact notes that he wants, the exact instruments or voices that he wants to play or sing those notes -even the exact number of instruments or voices; and he also writes down as many directions as he can think of, to tell the players or singers as carefully as he can everything they need to know about how fast or slow it should go, how loud or soft it should be, and millions of other things to help the performers to give an exact performance of those notes he thought up.
https://leonardbernstein.com/lectures/television-scripts/young-peoples-…

In reply to by Shoichi

Shoichi - Audio recording achieves all of those objectives much better than a written score.

Maybe one differential would be that pop music, since being recorded in audio format, could finally be perceived as being fluid, changing every 10 or 15 years, whereas, because classical music was commonly scored, it took 50 years for noticeable changes to occur?

In reply to by BSG

Me deleting my account would be easier than you rolling over and playing dead? The Beatles music has been fully scored because a score is still useful.

Who were the masters of the 20th century, if not the great pop musicians? That's not an easy question. Things changed a lot from the Big Band era to the era of the R&R combos. The Big bands had leaders who composed and arranged. The band members performed from written scores verbatim or nearly so. The R&R combos were democratic. John and Paul brought in sketches for each project and both George and Ringo composed masterful accompanying parts. That's a big paradigm shift in the common practice of the period. We can no longer compare composers and compositions one on one. The individual composers equates with a whole combo. The Beatles as a whole integral unit functioned as a composer. Something that is very apparent when you compare The Beatles to any one of their solo careers after the breakup.

Also, the common form was the short pop song and the album. The suite (album of songs) was the larger form. You can't compare one song to a symphony. A Beatles album does stand up to some of the greatest large form works of previous centuries.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Audio recording achieves all of those objectives much better than a written score
No because:
-you write to be played by others, and you can reach many more potential players by written scores
-recordings all voices together makes it almost impossible but for a very few to catch individual voices
-recording individual voices would make interpretation of long silence impossible
-if that was really so, why are you interested in MuseScore at all?

In reply to by BSG

You say so? I would disagree. I would say that they were utilizing the best method of recording available at the time. If you could go back in time and present Bach or Haydn or Beethoven with a Tascam analog or digital portastudio and an electric power source, what do you think they would use? I think one of the most important jobs that Musescore does is it allows musicologists to transcribe the old era for better preservation.

As a 21st century musician, I use Musescore much differently than "classical" composers are using it. But that's what makes me truly classical. I use it to write suites of pop songs, in the tradition of the 20th century masters. I use it to generate audio clips which I then manipulate on a DAW. This is the common practice of our time. My final score is develop on the DAW. The audio recording contains my intended meaning.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Do you want other people to try to play your music with their own hands and feet or instruments, or just listen to your recording? They can never do it justice, can they? I think the WEM (White European Male) "so-called masters" wanted people to play their works, learn from them, study their structure, etc. Maybe that's just the old way, and performance art is a commodity to be throttled and licensed, and learning to play other people's music is becoming obsolete.

I will never forget meeting a very talented busker-rock guitarist in Harvard Square many years ago, being impressed by his classic blues-rock technique. I asked him if he knew "Crossroads", by (Robt Johnson and) Cream. "We don't do covers" was his answer". I didn't know what that meant, so I asked about some other well-known work, and the answer was the same. You had to hear him play works that HE made up, and it was unrewarding. Is there any more need for symphony orchestras, pianists, organists, violinists, now that we have YouTube? What exactly is the use of music (I'm starting to forget) other than a revenue stream for "authors", kind of like lettuce?

In reply to by BSG

Very good question, for which I will have no immediate responses. I'm still working on other things that you and others have said.

We don't know what the masters of the 19th century wanted us to play. They were limited by the notation system. Perhaps, Beethoven meant for his sonatas to be performed with an improvisational attitude. The score can't convey that. Perhaps that is exactly how he performed his pieces? Imagine, that I am about to give a speech. I can write the whole thing down and deliver it verbatim, or I can make what are called "notes" to refer to and improvise the speech. Maybe that's exactly what some of the masters were doing? Making notes. I think the sonatas could be cut up into bits and sections and played through in an improvised manner. The pianist could even be attended by a page turner who randomly rearranged the order of the parts. That might liven up the recital a bit, eh? The parts could still be performed verbatim. The final drafts of the old masters might have been only suggestions of one way to convey the piece?

Anyway, I think that is the common practice since Louis Armstrong to improvise the piece from folk material, and record it directly, rather than to score it. And Louis was a master of the 20th century, as were Joplin and Sousa.

We still have an open question. Would you rather have a score by Beethoven or an audio recording of him performing? I'd take both. But what if you had a choice of one and only one? Mind, the audio recording might not be a verbatim rendition of the written score. That's unlikely. I think Beethoven was too inventive to be able to stick to his score.

In reply to by Rockhoven

No argument from me about those American masters. Beethoven was not a TV show; he had students and patrons left-and-right, and if he wanted his works to be played with an improvisational attitude, we'd know about it. Does it really matter "exactly how he performed it" if he wrote down what he considered to be the piece? His manuscripts and published scores are not the "Linear B" of a vanished Minoan civilization, left for us to ponder and scratch our heads over, as it were. He was a member of a continuous tradition from medieval times to the current day. Reports on the playing, and improvisation, and attitudes of great and famous, or famous then (e.g., Anton Rubinstein) artists, what they taught, and how they taught, are not in short supply. The idea that important details of their musical attitudes are lost in the mists of time is ... er ...

In reply to by BSG

I don't claim to know what they meant. I do know that scoring music presents limitations that an audio recording overcomes. Even Glenn Gould liked to stretch out the notes of Bach so as to escape the constant one-two-one-two-ism of his music. He took many a liberty with a fermata. Did Bach even employ the fermata? if not, it's only because it had not been invented in the notation system. So who was right? Bach and his written score or Gould with his performance eccentricities? Gould was notorious for quietly humming along to Bach. I don't see that in the notation, but evidently Gould thought it necessary to the performance. Feel free to correct me on details. I'm not a specialist. I'm a generalist.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Yes, Bach employed fermatas at appropriate places, usually in vocal music. Not everyone likes the way Glenn Gould played, or any other interpreter. Bach used young boys instead of women in his cantatas. Does that mean we have to do that. He didn't use pianos, either, but "clavier" is pretty general. There are occasional tempo markings when necessary. Being a Bach/Baroque specialist means knowing how to interpret such markings because you have read and studied Baroque (e.g., Quantz, CPE Bach) and later treatises on interpretation/performance. You seem to be saying that "Performance practice" study is something that only exists because YouTube wasn't available early enough, that the "interpretation" of written music shouldn't even happen, as long as recordings are available. Sounds like a dull concert scene (cut up concert halls into little listening booths).

Gould was a very talented interpreter. His decisions aren't "gospel". Beethoven wrote exact metronome markings -- the meaning of a second has not changed --- many skilled interpreters disregard them. Should that be legal, or something like a copyright violation? Does interpretation have any place in a YouTube world?

In reply to by BSG

Hey. Don't accuse me of saying something. I am notorious for saying nothing. Whatever. Would you rather have a written score of the Beatles or a recording of the Beatles? It's doubtful that anyone has or will ever do a better interpretation of "You're Gonna Lose that Girl" than the Fab Four. But what about the other masters/ Sousa? Joplin?

At this point, I think it would be good to consult with the younger posters here. I wonder what someone who was born in the year 2000 and after would say about the classical music of the 20th century? Who were the masters and what were the greatest works? i say that the classical music was blues, jazz and rock & roll. I don't think that the great masters were working in the laboratories of the universities.

Another question for the Millennials out there - Why can Phillip Glass present us with a 25 minute tape loop and it's "classical" and a Hip Hop artist who presents at least an assortment of loops no longer than 20 or 30 seconds is "not even making music?" If Rap is not music, then why judge it according to musical standards? Why complain that it has no melody, if it's not music? The Greek poets who played the lyre while reciting did not make harmony and rhythm, so it's not music. Bernstein is coming from a literary tradition. He served as Professor of Poetry at Harvard. The masters of the 20th worked with the spoken word, more often than not. Bach was in service to the church liturgy. The poets of today have the immense task of recreating a meta-narrative to replace the meta-narrative that Bach supported. Bernstein's video emphasizes how important it was to him that the music support a new narrative for a democratic people.

In reply to by Rockhoven

I probably shouldn't get involved with this thread, but here goes:
Rockhoven, I think you underestimate the speed at which "Classical" music evolves. To a Viennese audience of 1790, a symphony by Haydn written in 1775 would sound hopelessly dated; although the differences wouldn't be so apparent to us in 2020.

Wikipedia: Helikopter-Streichquartett (English: Helicopter String Quartet) is one of Karlheinz Stockhausen's best-known pieces, and one of the most complex to perform. It involves a string quartet, four helicopters with pilots, as well as audio and video equipment and technicians. It was first performed and recorded in 1995. Although performable as a self-sufficient piece, it also forms the third scene of the opera Mittwoch aus Licht ("Wednesday from Light").

The art of the Beatles not only includes the songs, but the films they made. A Hard Day's Night is a film classic. They invented the music video, in a way. Add to that the filmed TV appearances and interviews. Common practice surely evolved drastically in the 20th century. There's no comparison. Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground doing their "happenings." Most artists of the 20th century, musicians and visual artists worked in multimedia.

In reply to by Rockhoven

I like these last questions, including the call for some millennial input. Why do we have call rap "music", and compare it with Brahms? Rap, to me, is a perfectly valid and potent form of political poetry with rhythm. Not my particular politics, and I don't enjoy it much (at all), but what does it gain from claiming to be "music"?

Bach certainly had a church narrative. Most of the people who listen to him today, including his religious music, are not Lutheran Christians (or even Christians, but I'm not sure about that). But it has been one of my life's "crusades", to use a poor word, to urge that if you don't take the (extensive) time to understand those narratives, not necessarily subscribe to them or sympathize with them, not to mention German, much of his greatness will be inaccessible to you. What a horrible and ugly deal, you have to spend time studying and learning in order to appreciate his work! Dammit, why doesn't Fifty-Cent require language and theological learning? Why, that might be true of a mathematician or scientist, but a musician? Sorry, yes. Bach's job isn't to entertain you. Your job is to make the best out of your sojourn on the planet, and discovering its most interesting and intricate byways may or may not be your chosen quest, but if so, he's there and those are the bridges to his island.

In reply to by BSG

What about Shakespeare, Aristophanes, Dante, or the Duomo of Venice? There just aren't so many Thanes of Cawdor or Olympian gods that people care about these days, and we've seen more potent Hells than anything Dante dreamed up. Does art become as obsolete as 3.5" floppy disks when the historical context of its narratives loses immediate relevance? Boy, Heaven help those Rap artists if so!

In reply to by BSG

Agreed. Human beings are going extinct. Then what? Another side topic is this - Should the great classic scores be counted among the Great Books of the Western World? I think so. Until technology caught up, the great musical scores could not be included in a set of Great Books, because of their folio size. Wouldn't Bach fit nicely on the shelf next to Newton and Voltaire? And Beethoven among Rousseau and Edward Gibbon?

To return to the OP. I think this division of pop and classical came about from several factors:
1) The introduction of audio and visual recording.
2) The rise of Black music masters.
3) Drastic changes in common practice.
4) The rise of the modern university system.

The only hazard in asking the Milleniels these questions is that no one knows what is good. The artists have to inform us as to what is good. They can go to a university and have someone tell them what is good, like I did. But I'm not so sure that the professors had it right. My theory professor gave me an A if I would stop coming to classes. I just don't think that anyone is more qualified to inform us but the masters. So, it comes down to who the masters of the 20th century are. I say it's Sousa, Joplin, Armstrong, Artie Shaw, John Kirby etc. And I got an A in theory, so I should know.

In reply to by Rockhoven

BSG - Don't make the mistake of comparing the cream of yore to the multitude of contemporary voices. If we could go back in time, we would find few gods among the illiterati of the day. We talk about Dylan and Hendrix and the Beatles but forget about how much awful garbage was on Top 40 in those days. Back then, we had the time to sift through all of it. I'm sure that the average rap or hip hop song is just as bad, but there are a few bright lights shining in this new form. Right, it's a poetic art form. It reminds me of Ezra Pound spouting his gibberish while banging on a garbage can lid. If he's only been born fifty years later, he could have driven up to Newport Folk, plugged his garbage can lid into an amp and gotten booed off the stage!

In reply to by bobjp

well, in a democracy, music production changes. We have many voices in the collective. Shaw might not be a giant equal to Beethoven, but he's a member of a collective and democratic voice. Schoenberg got blindsided. He wanted to democratize the twelve tones because democratic institutions had permeated Western culture. or that may have only been a rationalization after the fact, something to say to justify the twelve tone row. What really happened was that folk materials became prominent, and combos did the composing, democratically and collectively. The nature of the beast is so transformed that it's like comparing an infant to an elderly person. There's no comparison between contemporary art forms and their past prototypes. Shaw is a contributor to the collective.

In reply to by Rockhoven

(R) my reasons for bringing up Dylan and Hendrix was neither to extol their greatness nor compare them to artists of today, but to demonstrate in the life-cycle of a song through both how the "popular music" paradigm was different from the "classical" one.

It requires some distance from the period in question to determine what is classical. Bach was not classical until Beethoven's time or even after his time. We may be only distant enough to begin to select the classical music of the early 20th century. What's the problem with Scott Joplin and John Phillip Sousa?

In reply to by BSG

Right. So why isn't Miles Davis considered classical? He plays music, doesn't he? If we are really going to make a selection of 20th century classical music, here's a point to consider: Not everyone on the roster of great masters is a towering giant. There are greater and lesser lights. The greater are Bach and Beethoven and maybe Schoenberg. What about Ives? He seems to be a lesser light. In the 20th, we have giants like the Beatles. Where do you place Sousa and Scott Joplin? That is as classical as you can get, regardless of how bright they shine. Yes, it's a different style, but it's a different period. Their presence is like the presence of Ravel, Debussy and Satie from the Impressionistic period. Just because they depart from tradition doesn't exclude them from being classical. Sousa and Joplin are more classical than Glass or Reich. To me, Jazz is just modern classical music. If jazz is classical music then Artie Shaw belongs there, though he may not be a giant. I think John Kirby is worthy also.

No one who opposes my thesis has yet offerred up their own roster of 20th century masters. I'd like to take each on a case by case basis. First, Scott Joplin and Sousa. Both composed written scores.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Maybe the distinction is no longer useful, especially since there are no more record bins. Are Sousa's marches played any place outside the United States?

Like Hendrix, Miles Davis played improvisations whose duplication is undesirable, and there are no scores of them, at least not written by him. If you don't like my criterion, you don't have to believe it or use it.

In reply to by BSG

Sousa has international status. Why do you ask? And what about Joplin? Both are written in detailed scores. I find no problem with them. These are who I listen to when I want to listen to classical. I don't listen to Steve Reich or Phillip Glass, other than to be knowledgeable of their work. They don't deserve to be called classical more than Joplin and Sousa. I don't even think that Stockhausen and Cage are as qualified as Joplin and Sousa.

I think the point of this discussion is to establish what the criterion are.

In reply to by Rockhoven

They criteria are subjective, just like "good". You seem to equate it to "good", that if Joplin and Sousa aren't "classical", that's saying that they're no good. It is pretty unclear for Stockhausen and Cage. Frank Zappa? Captain Beefheart (he was meticulous to the point of Ahab-like monomania about note-accurate performances)? Maybe the category is no longer necessary given advances in search engines.

In reply to by BSG

So Rockhoven, let's try to be clear. This discussion has ranged so far an wide that I've lost track.

I think we are considering the 4 points you listed above, under the auspices of a quote about pop being classical.

There have been so many rabbit trails, it's hard to focus.

In reply to by BSG

OK. Fair enough. I've tried to narrow it down to two composers, distant enough to be objective. Joplin and Sousa. Those are the rabbits we are chasing. Are they classical? Why or why not?

If you want to consider my four points, then they have to be taken altogether. You might argue each individually, but I think it was the combination of all those that resulted in pop and classical being separated from each other.

How about the huge trove of carefully-composed Russian Orthodox church music, and Komitas, the Armenian church-music master? Few listen to it outside those faiths or countries (of the first I am a huge and long-term fan). It looks like "classical music" and sort-of sounds like "classical music" --- and IMO it's terrific, but it's a bit like Sousa in its localization in a corner of the world's culture.

How about that amazing carefully-composed Balkan/Bulgarian women's ensemble music (Mystère de la Voix Bulgaire), often sung around here before "concert' was erased from the dictionary.

In reply to by BSG

I can't imagine either being played a "regular concert" of a major orchestra, but for a "Boston Pops" type orchestra, they're standard fare. Why?

In reply to by BSG

One is for concert band and the other is for piano. Joplin has also been performed on wind and brass ensembles. It does not have to be performed by an orchestra. A string quartet is a good example. This conversation is going down rabbit holes because the criterion is unclear or even shifting from post to post.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Sure, transcriptions, as much orchestral music arranged for piano. But the "classical" label (in my opinion) starts loosening in transcription, for Bach and Beethoven as well. Schubert's Ellens dritter Gesang, the Lady of the Lake's German prayer to Mary, is "classical music." But the brutalization (words don't work at all) to the Latin Ave Maria, "Schubert's beloved Ave Maria" is on the train to popization (no ref to the Pope:).

In reply to by BSG

At the time of their writing, they were considered pop. I no longer consider them to be pop. It's true classical music if there is such a thing. Style has little to do with it. Yet again, it does, because it evokes a period. Just like Debussy, Ravel and Satie.

In reply to by BSG

Sousa has been transcribed many times for classical guitar and something has to be sacrificed, due to the limitations in range. Something is always dropped in a transcription. "Pavane pour une Infante Défunte" by Ravel was transcribed from piano to orchestra and it's still classical music. Sousa and Joplin both transcribe very well to a range of instruments and ensembles.

In reply to by BSG

I think the only thing that gets in the way is style. That's what throws people for a loop. When Joplin and Sousa were writing, they were absolutely considered to be pop. We are looking back 100 to 120 years and asking "What was the classical music of the early 20th century?" From a distance, I see these two as being fully qualified. They wrote scores. What does the style have to do with it? We are 70 years away from the first soundings of rock & roll. 50 years from now, people will look back and select the best of it to be classical music. What's the difference between classical and jazz? I don't see it.

Why can't classical music be improvised? Mozart improvised, then he wrote down what he had improvised. i think this was common practice for Ravel and Satie, maybe even Beethoven? Who's making up all of these rules? Classical music has to be written down. What did Ravi Shankar perform?

In reply to by Rockhoven

Didn't someone bring a piece to Mozart and he played it then improvised off of it, and the improvisation was better than the original? I think that Louis Armstrong improvised classical music and recorded it in an audio "score." A score more accurate and better suited to the music.

In one of Beethoven's letters he referred to Bach as the "father of harmony." He didn't call him the father of rhythm. The real nuances of rhythm could never be accurately recorded in a written score. That happened in the 20th and it brought artists like Armstrong onto the International stage.

Up until the 20th, classical music never had a beat. It does now, and that's what throws the musicologist off. Why can't the music be founded upon a beat or exotic rhythm?

In reply to by Rockhoven

I don't think we (or at least I) can talk competently about the categories of what is called "Indian (or Hindustani) classical music". That is a term, but the categories parse differently as for Western music.

Sure, there are "classical improvisers" all over the place, not the worst of whom myself. Can I, or Mozart, truly be said to "improvise classical music"? Doesn't get better than this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGG3Zcc7yqw (Daniel Roth at St. Sulpice). I'm not sure what I believe now ... classical improvisation does test my proposal! That is a superlative point.

In reply to by BSG

As far as I can determine, "Indian Classical music" is not a body of compositions (although there are songs, e.g. Tagore's) but very tightly circumscribed modal/rhythmic/structural frameworks into which improvisation is expected and required (but equally tightly circumscribed). I gather Pandit Shankar did write with music-paper in the Western way (he composed much "crossover" repertoire), but he was "a musician in the Indian classical tradition", not a "composer of Indian Classical music".

In reply to by BSG

What's the difference between Daniel Roth and some kid pulling all of the pots and pans out onto the kitchen floor and banging away? Now, that's classical!

If you are going to improvise classical music, you'd better not worry about what it sounds like. just bang it out while recording it and allow future generations to make the judgement. What sound like muddy gobbly gook to you might be thought the work of a genius a hundred years hence. Your work will be cited in theory books that say: "After playing too many notes, play fewer notes."

In reply to by Rockhoven

There is music that is primarily calculated and repeatable. And there is music that primarily isn't.
Pop music is not intended to be repeatable in its original form. Improvisation obviously is not repeatable.
So what is music? Is it what you hear or is it the medium?
I use notation software to write orchestra music. With apologies to better composers I call it film score or classical lite. I don't write pop music. I don't write jazz, or marches. I don't write atonal music, or 4 1/2 minutes of silence. What I write is calculated and repeatable. Not exactly like a recording. But with a human touch. A recording is not a score. It serves a different purpose. And yet a recording is useless without a playback device. And the type of playback device can change how the recording sounds.
You can make the same argument for a printed score. There are many elements that go into what a piece sounds like when performed by humans. And therein lies the difference. A human touch instead of electronics.

The university system didn't define music theory, or classical music. That was settled long ago.

In reply to by bobjp

What about formal, venerable classical improvisation à la the estimable M. Roth? Much like Shankar, or Hendrix playing Red House or Voodoo Chile (long) (12-bar blues is almost a raga form) it is calculated, but not repeatable, although these artists routinely do/did "something like that" when called on for each similar improvisation. I will add that similar organ improvisations by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) were transcribed from wire recordings, by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) (a titanic feat, only possible because he himself was immersed in that tradition, and "knew all the hacks/gestures", like top-notch rock guitar transcribers), and are now "repeatable classical music" performed note-for-note by (talented) organists.

In reply to by Rockhoven

The difference between Roth, or Hendrix or Shankar, and a pot-banging kid, improvising is that the improvisations of all of those artists are provably deeply rooted in extant traditions of form, expression, and technique. In the case of Roth, that work sounds very, very much like "published classical music" of Dupré etc., Hendrix a blues tradition with its own roots, and Shankar a much lengthier and more formal tradition that really is called "Hindustani/North Indian classical music", consisting not of works, but highly formal improvisatory frameworks. In each of these cases, their skill in conforming to, continuing, and extending those respective traditions is (still) greatly admired. I will confess that the first time I heard Voodoo Chile (long) (in college, in Hendrix' day), and was completely ignorant of the blues, I thought it was just weird electric guitar noise -- now I venerate it as one of the most powerful and innovative blues tracks (not "songs") ever recorded.

In reply to by BSG

Before the plague, people flocked to St. Sulpice every Sunday to hear M. Roth improvise preludes and postludes. Never the same thing twice, but always fascinating (on the world's greatest romantic-style organ). That's the job description for French organists (there are and were many, but Roth is now the greatest, and has recorded extensively).

Just as the theory books take their standards from the common practice of the period as practiced by the masters, we should do.

1) Identify the masters of the 20th
2) Examine their practices

All other attempts are arbitrary. Our first task is to identify the masters. If you can't do this in the next post, this conversation is over. Stop trying to do it the other way around. You want to arbitrarily set the standards and then select your "masters" based upon false criterion, then compare them to the masters of old? This is a false comparison. Musicologists work the other way around. You first select the masters and then deduce the standards. The Beatles are indisputable masters of the 20th. let's pick one or two more for starters. I say Joplin and Sousa. State your cases for or against each. Or select a third or fourth.

It's not that the criterion are wholly arbitrary. It's that you are taking standards drawn from the common practices of bygone eras and using them to make your selection of masters. So, consider how just was it - the selection of the first masters? They had no textbook standards for selecting Bach. So how did Bach make it into the textbooks and set the first standards? Then how did standards evolve from generation to generation?

So how did Bach make it into the world of "classical?" Was he always classical? Or did he become classical. We know that he was not considered a master musician at Leipzig, and we know that his work fell immediately into obscurity. How then did he become a standard of inferiority and almost total obscurity to become a textbook standard?

In reply to by Rockhoven

When I look at the works that incipient composers try to create on MuseScore, I see Bach, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Chopin, ,,, Rachmaninoff...a lot of competent jazz --- I have seen one or two extremely competent ragtime pieces, but not one Sousa-like march.

Perhaps people just like the works of famous dead white European male composers (even people are not WEM's) and don't think about being "fair" to dead composers whose works they don't like as much. Perhaps the fact that Bach and Beethoven continue to thrive has to do with the cosmos of intellectual and emotional value they put in their works. There is no "fair" in art.

In reply to by BSG

Perhaps after you listen to ten Sousa marches or 10 Joplin rags, you might say "ok, I get it". Yes, they're all different, but. After a lifetime of studying Bach, some of his cantatas still hold surprises for me. As does almost every Beethoven sonata, because I hardly know them. Sorry, Sousa and Joplin don't do that for me, or millions of other people. Your mileage may vary. Pick and venerate your heroes, and I will mine. Set up a shrine for Joplin (Scott- I admire Janis, too) and Sousa, and if air travel is ever allowed again, I might visit it. Already been to Leipzig.

In reply to by BSG

Your tastes are being informed by Bach. You have not answered the question with positive answers. Who are the masters of the 20th?

I think now that your criterion are a bit better. The great books are chosen along the same lines that you suggest. That the works can be reviewed again and again and new meaning gotten from them. That's good. Do the Beatles do that for you?

In reply to by BSG

I know that Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms "mastered" everything that was in the European musical world at that time, and produced broad corpora of works for every kind of medium available at the time (and Bach more breadth than the others). Even the first-rate genius Chopin did not. Joplin (either) or Sousa, as lovable and competent as their music is (and it is) cannot be mentioned in the same breath. Or even my very beloved Russian Church composers. Wish I could compose 1/100 as well as Paul Chesnokov, but to call him a "master of the 20th century" is wrong.

In reply to by BSG

@Rockhoven. I am not interested in pigeonholing anyone. But it I were held down and beat with a stick, I would not classify Sousa or Joplin as classical. Nor do I think that it is all that important. Because calling them classical does not raise there stature. Just as not calling them classical doesn't lower their stature.

I also don't think the Beatles were geniuses. They were four kids who came along at the right time with the right sound and were heavily promoted. I liked some of their stuff. I like some covers better than their originals. For example: With a Little Help From My Friends. Mostly a bouncy, insipid tune. But because it is a Beatles song, all of us learning to play guitar in High School dutifully played it. However when Joe Cocker did it at Woodstock, it became the version I preferred, and used as the basis for the version I later did. You think they are classical based on what, their popularity? My millennial daughter prefers later, more imaginative covers of their songs.

@BSG. It is interesting that someone would transcribe a recording of improvisation. To me, that would lesson the value and spirit of improvising. It is meant to be in the moment. Nothing wrong with recording it, I suppose. Listen to it for sure. Be inspired by it. But to copy it and try to repeat it seems a violation, some how. But to each his own. Everything stated in this thread is opinion.

The whole idea of pop as classical just doesn't work for me. The definition of both genres is fuzzy around the edges. But not that fuzzy.

In reply to by bobjp

Both of you are avoiding the questions. Who were the masters of the 20th century and why? I didn't make the rules. The rules were made by musicologists long ago. We select the masters of a period and deduce the common practice from their works. How do we select the masters? I think BSG hit the best argument yet. It's the same criteria for selecting the great books.

But I'm not asking you to compare the masters of the 20th to the masters of the 18th century. The 20th century is over and we can now look back and select the best of them. Who are they? And why do you pick them?

In reply to by Rockhoven

I did tell you --- "I don't know who 'the masters' of the 20th century are." Do you want to hear about electric guitar masters? Easy. Organist-composer-masters? Easy. Jazz masters-easy, too. Comprehensive all-category masters like Beethoven etc? I don't think there are any.

In reply to by BSG

I think you're right about that. But consider this. If you are going to look for another Bach in the 20th century, the effort will fail. But it will fail equally for the 18th and 19th centuries, right? Still, we selected certain composers from each period as the best. After Bach came Mozart and Haydn and Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and all along the way there were great paradigm shifts, new discoveries were made, counterpoint had to be abandoned to make room for explorations in homophony. we selected the masters based upon the fact that they recorded their music. There may have been greater masters living on the top of Mount Everest for all we know, but these entered the competition for greatness by recording their works. Isn't is odd that the greatest are always the most prolific, also? These masters lead us in a sense of what is good. Otherwise, we don't know what is good. Who knew what good pop music sounded like until the Beatles recorded? We didn't have the slightest idea.

Now you could go to a music school and the professors will tell you what is good. But how do they know? They know that these works survived in written form and therefore can be referred to and examined. Then they write theory books which cite the common practice of a period. The most prolific are cited more often, which reinforces their stature. From this we get the roster of masters and the canon of selected works. Every 50 or 100 years there are paradigm shifts and the theory books are revised.

If the faithfulness of recording the music and reproducing it is a valid criteria, then who can oppose the common practice of making audio recordings of the finished products? If a composer is a master because s/he works with a written score, how much more the composers who recorded on discs? The accuracy of rhythm, intonation, pitch and note values are immensely more accurate than a written score could ever achieve. We only need look at the numbers to prove this conclusively. We can accurately measure those elements to within a 1000th of a second for a note duration, within a .001 hz of intonation and pitch, not only for the whole scale but for each individual instance of a pitch. the note A can occur as 440 in one instance followed by 441 or 445 in the next instance and it can be precisely recorded. We can record intricacies of rhythm that were impossible to notate. We can modulate by a quarter tone with ease and faithfully record it.

Let's look at some more numbers. We'll use Beethoven as an example, though you could equally use Bach. Beethoven is tinkering at his new pianoforte (the electric guitar of the day.)
He improvises a little passage and goes over it a few times. The metronome is at 60 beats per minute. Then he turns off the metronome and plays it with feeling. the are 60 beats per minute and each measure is 1 second long. That means that an individual beat, a quarter note, is .250 seconds long. Yet Beethoven doesn't play it like that. He's playing one beat at 249 and another at 251, and so on, stretching and contracting the notes, yet each one of those precise note durations has a specific sense and meaning to him. then he goes for his staff paper and pen, and writes 4 equal quarter notes. This same problem was a handicap even up to Schoenberg. The notation is imperfect and does not accurately convey the sense.

The great paradigm shift happened in common practice with Louis Armstrong. For the first time the improvisation could be directly recorded. An African rhythm could be faithfully put down in an audio recording. it was necessary to improvise because of the new opportunities that audio recording opened, and it was the responsibility of the masters to shed old ways and usher in the new. Louis Armstrong is a master. And others followed in his footsteps, including the Beatles.

The problem is that there are more than one paradigm shifts in the 20th. By mid century, the combo assumed the role of composer. There is a democratic aspect to music composition in the 20th. We cannot compare any one composer to any composer from the past eras. We have to compare a whole collection to another collection. The task is to compare all of the music produced in the 20th to all of the music produced in another century. The 20th is more prolific. More music was recorded than in any other century and it's that prolific output of recordings that will put the previous centuries to task to prove themselves. In the world of art, it's the most prolific who set the standards. You find this over and over again, in literature, in visual arts, in filmmaking. The proof is that you were unwilling to raise Sousa and Joplin to great heights. It's mainly because no individual was prolific enough in the 20th. But the collective voice of the 20th century is quite prolific. And a collection of the greatest pop music of the 20th is incredibly vast and deep, and worth revisiting again and again and again. It's an astounding achievement, kind of like the moon landing. The musical voice of the 20th century stands up quite nicely to the complete works of any previous century. Plus, Bach didn't have to write lyrics for an unknown, new, humanistic meta-narrative. He had the clergy deliver the words to him every Monday. It might be worthwhile to examine Bach's methods and compare them to modern methods. They're just different ways of doing things.

The topic is far from moribund. And with that, I turn the forum back over to Marc Sabatella, who will lead us in holy prayer.

In reply to by Rockhoven

I do not buy any of this "the composer is God, and his or her performance is sacred and there is no need for anything else" religion. I believe that even contemporary with the composer, let alone afterwards, the are others versed in the same traditions and style have valid input and interpretation to works of musical art. Eric Clapton's solo on "While my Guitar Gently weeps" it is the best thing on the Beatles White Album; it is spectacular and classic. But the case that the late Prince's version of the exact same, in the exact same language, is superior is defensible. Composers have argued with opera and symphony directors about how to perform their works -- and the attitude is rarely "the composer is God". Performers claim to have knowledge, training, and feeling, too, but I sense you don't believe there should be performers in a YouTube world. Do you know many performers?

That is right, no individual in the 20th century produced a corpus broad enough (not "big enough") to be called a "master" in the way Beethoven was. There were no "masters of all music". Not specialists in any area, including jazz, pop, marches, ragtime or European Art music. I do not believe that any of them, or the sum of them together "replaced" the old "white male composers". What's the point of comparing a diverse brand of new genres of art to old music? Whom are you trying to elevate or put down?

In reply to by BSG

I am attempting to refute the argument that classical music is precisely notated in written scores, and is not improvised. Audio recording is far superior and therefore the recorded artists of the 20th are classical. And if the masters choose to improvise then that is the common practice of the period. Also that there was a paradigm shift from single composer to small combos of performers, of which, the Beatles are exemplar. Add to that the four points I made previously.

In reply to by Rockhoven

OK, you've successfully convinced me that you can't convince me of any of these arguments. These theories do not appeal to me at all. You have an absolute right to start your own political party or religion, and find as many subscribers and you can bring to it. I'm not one, sorry. I have different beliefs about the meaning of art. I see no point in pursuing your or my beliefs any further. There are no reasonable disputations, or any that can be resolved, about politics or religion or the roles and structures of art. This pointless. Write a book, start a web site, and when the pandemic is over, give lectures, and try to sell tickets. I'm not buying one. Neither you nor or I are "wrong" or "right". I simply find no appeal or merit in your position. Others may. My opinions do not matter. I represent no one but myself. Have a nice day (well, in this pandemic, that's not a nice thing to say).

In reply to by Rockhoven

ARGH! Too many fallacies to deal with all at once. You say that one must be prolific to be a "master". There are plenty of one (or two) hit wonders in the classical world. You are saying that once a work is recorded It is done. So how does someone get their orchestra music recorded? They create a score, and record live players.
But I think you are going in the direction of not needing real players at all. Isn't it possible for someone with a DAW and an extensive library to create music directly on the computer. Sure. But why? Ever since I was in music school in the early 70's, "they" have been predicting the end of the need for live players.

Of course classical music is precisely notated in scores. 4 quarter notes are four quarter notes. The score is not music. It has always been up to the performer to make music out of what is on the page. Always. But a recording is but one version of a particular piece.

Nobody told me what music was good while I was in music school. We studied all kinds of music. From Palestrina to Weber + Rice. Much of it I didn't care for. But that wasn't the point.

I don't believe it's up to you or me to decide who the masters were or are. Time and a general consensus will. I don't know what the objective criteria is for deciding who is in an who is out. You have listed your criteria, but I don't agree with it. And stated my reasons for it.

In reply to by bobjp

Yes, there are too many fallacies. One hit wonders are not masters by definition. They one hit failures. Yes, it is possible to create music on a DAW. People are doing it every day. You ask why? Why not? You have yet to answer any of my questions. "ARRRG" is not a definitive argument. Four quarter notes are not four absolutely precisely and equally measured quarter notes. The term is "rubato," an effect that was never and could never be recorded until audio recording was introduced. And Louis Armstrong exploits this and many other features of music that could not have been notated in a written score. Your chosen score as you seem fit to render it in performance is not what the composer intended. The limitations of score writing prohibit that. Audio recording overcomes that great limitation.

Here's an excellent example of what I am saying. Armstrong's "Sweethearts on Parade."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7_943urk4

That's classical music. Improvised by a Black man with Black musicians for support, recorded more faithfully than anyone could hope to do with a written score. It puts your "classical" composers to shame. Albeit that they had to struggle along with very primitive recording devices as pen and paper. Of course, the universities had to label it "pop." It put them all to shame.

There is no way that you can defend a written score when presented with an audio recording by the actual composer. The masters made audio recordings and that's the new common practice. I am going to set down my two masters of the 20th - Louis Armstrong and The Beatles. They are both widely acclaimed, incredibly inventive and sophisticated, and served as role models for a generation of composers. And the music connects with people. It brought people together. Those are their credentials. Set forth your own selection of masters, whoever they are and take a positive argument in their favor.

Having set forth our masters, we may then deduce the common practice of the period. Improvisation, with all players contributing to the composition as a collective, and directly producing a more perfect recording than ever was possible in previous centuries. With recorded sound, rhythm could finally come to the forefront of the composition. Nuances of rhythm that can only be captured by recording devices. So the rhythm took center stage and became the common practice of the period. This has nothing to do with whether one likes it or not. It's the standard music of the 20th century. the musicians got their cues from blues, jazz and folk. The undead "classical" musicians in the conservatories and laboratories are bit players in the story. That's why the terms "pop" and "classical" came into use - because the "classical" musicians could not produce, so they belittled those who did produce with these terms. "We are the serious musicians. That's just pop music." Much of it was labeled "Race Music" by the college educated illiterati. The pop music of the 20th is far superior to it's contemporary "classical" counterpart.

Are we about to come to blowtorches in this discussion?

In reply to by Rockhoven

Brother, I am not the least bit upset or angry. In fact I find your instance that the things you say are indeed absolute, rather humorous. No disrespect intended. Would you allow me some time to put together one last post on this last entry of yours?

Can you show me an instance where a less prolific artist is the standard, when a more prolific artist is available for reference? They tell me that Telemann was more prolific than Bach. Too bad his works don't survive. If ever they should find those works that are no longer extant and complete his ouvre, it's going to be "Move over Bach and make room for Telemann in the textbooks." Telemann will overtake Bach as the superior standard. Andy Warhol was not intent upon producing works that were "good." He aimed at being the most prolific. I think Picasso did the same. It is not any coincidence that the Beatles are giants and that they put out so many songs in such a short period of time. The Beatles together as a group, recorded and released around 200 original songs. The Rolling Stones? Around 60 in the same period of time.

In reply to by Rockhoven

It’s difficult to say much to you without seeming like a classical music snob, which I am not. It’s just that you make so many odd claims. I’m not interested in defining classical v pop music.
“Four quarter notes are not four absolutely precisely and equally measured quarter notes.”
As far as a written score goes, of course they are. Much more accurate than any recording. What the player does is an entirely different subject. Apples and oranges. Pop music recordings are a snapshot in time of a particular performance. That exact result is the intent and sum of the event. There is no expectation that anyone else will try to repeat the performance. Especially when copyright laws come into effect. A printed score is a roadmap for performers to create their own moment in time. These are two completely different means to different ends. The pop recording is the set in cold stone version. The live performance of a score is living and breathing music. Which is better or defining is arguable. They are two different entities going two different directions.
There has always been pop music and classical music. The street musician and the concert hall. I place no judgment or value on one over the other. They are what they are. To claim that the Beatles are somehow classical because they are popular is just odd to me. Why would they aspire to be classical? Classical music has never been popular in the general population.
To demonstrate my problem with your hypothesis, I pick my own pop master.
“Louie, Louie” recorded by the Kingsmen. This recording singlehandedly changed pop music like no other. It has been one of the most covered songs ever. Even folks who have never heard the Kingsmen version know how it goes. The Kingsmen recording is poorly recorded and full of mistakes. Plus, it is a one hit wonder because the band broke up before the recording ever came out. They did reform for short time, but without the original members. It is inventive with respect to the driving rhythm, and at least as sophisticated as early Beatle recordings.
There are composers writing some kind of classical music today. But classical composers have always been few and far between, and often not recognized in their lifetime. An argument could be made for a John Williams arrangement for orchestra of a suite of his film music. Though film score is not always taken seriously.
And finally:
“. So the rhythm took center stage and became the common practice of the period. This has nothing to do with whether one likes it or not. It's the standard music of the 20th century.”
This is entirely your opinion. As is the entire post. You are certainly intitled to your opinion. And I’m sure you believe what you say. But you can’t claim it to be fact any more than I can claim my opinions to be fact. Whether they are fact or not is irrelevant. Otherwise, you have fallen into the same trap your professors did.
Enjoy the music that you enjoy. That’s why it is there.

So, can we get back on topic, please?

What's the difference between classical and pop music? I don't believe there was any distinction between the two until the beginning of the 20th century. But exactly when did these terms come into use? And why?

In reply to by Rockhoven

Here's an idea. Buy a dictionary. Look up those two terms. If you don't believe the dictionary, why would you believe what anyone here says. You have steadfastly rejected anything anyone has said. You misunderstand what music is. You insist (without any logic to back it up) that music that is popular is therefore classical. Popularity is irrelevant and has no basis in reality because each of us has our own idea of what is good. You insist that a recording is a more accurate representation of the composers intent than is a written score. But again, you misunderstand what music is. And to do that, you need to figure out what music is not.

Hi Rockhoven,

this is a difficult question. Pop music is an abbreviation for popular music. This is the music which is in and most people listen to rock music.
It is very difficult to determine what classical music is and even if people nowadays compose it. On my opinion classical music is still alive and new classical music is spreading out, mainly in social media. When William and Kate married in 2011, the King's singers performed "Ubi caritas" by Paul Mealor (*1975), a contemporary Welsh classical composer:
https://youtu.be/3KjZvC_ga9M

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